The Scientific Indian

On Barbers

Sunil reminds us of the pleasures of haircuts.

When I first shaved my head hair off (2001 or thereabouts, when my hair retreated rapidly from the forehead and met the nape), I had recurring dreams in which I would get astonishingly hep haircuts by world’s best hair artists. Slowly my brain descended into hairless reality and regained its composure. I also stopped looking ravenous at heads full of hair (photos of Sathya Sai Baba, a godman and miracle worker with an enviable afro, really messed me up, his miracles had only ill effects on my atheist head). These days, my brain has given up and simply dreams of a rusty razor – all by itself, suspended in midair – giving my head a quick and bloody shave. Still, this is no match what Mark Twain got:

Now he began to shave, digging his fingers into my countenance to stretch the skin and bundling and tumbling my head this way and that as convenience in shaving demanded. As long as he was on the tough sides of my face I did not suffer; but when he began to rake, and rip, and tug at my chin, the tears came. He now made a handle of my nose, to assist him shaving the corners of my upper lip, and it was by this bit of circumstantial evidence that I discovered that a part of his duties in the shop was to clean the kerosene-lamps. I had often wondered in an indolent way whether the barbers did that, or whether it was the boss.

About this time I was amusing myself trying to guess where he would be most likely to cut me this time, but he got ahead of me, and sliced me on the end of the chin before I had got my mind made up. He immediately sharpened his razor — he might have done it before. I do not like a close shave, and would not let him go over me a second time. I tried to get him to put up his razor, dreading that he would make for the side of my chin, my pet tender spot, a place which a razor cannot touch twice without making trouble; but he said he only wanted to just smooth off one little roughness, and in the same moment he slipped his razor along the forbidden ground, and the dreaded pimple-signs of a close shave rose up smarting and answered to the call. Now he soaked his towel in bay rum, and slapped it all over my face nastily; slapped it over as if a human being ever yet washed his face in that way. Then he dried it by slapping with the dry part of the towel, as if a human being ever dried his face in such a fashion


  1. #1 rambhai
    February 2, 2008

    why did u take such “razory”~~~step…adoptin budhism??

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